UP5 Preview - The Big Question

Written by Claire Carvounis

This issue of UP has sprung more questions than answers as our writers grapple with the monolithic definition of an icon. What makes an icon? Do we pinpoint it in locations like New York, Los Angeles, or Havana, or do we fix it in more historical timelines like the rise of graffiti or the storied past of the American flag? Is an icon singular in nature calling on names like CRASH, MuckRock, and Bob Ross, or can we group them in collectives such as superheroes or brand names like OBEY?

Are they what influence us as individuals, or as the wider breadth of generations and countries? And do we have to see them to know them, or can their ideas be enough to carry them into the status of icons?

The answers breed a nest of definitions that circle around the double-edged idea of being known. We have seen the rise and fall of icons of our past and present as cancel culture has now been linked so closely to fame and iconography.

The survival of icons has dwindled, and we are wary to put our support and trust into those who grow to be great. The effects an individual, group, or idea can have on the world, however, is staggering and with time can morph into something completely revolutionary.

The impression of icons grounds itself in what we see in them, all the images and actions we witness grow a potential for something great. Without us, can icons be? Without icons, can we become?

So in this give and take, we ask our question:

What Defines an Icon?



Claire Carvounis is a graduate of Emerson College where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Arts Production. Throughout college, she was able to also pursue her passion for art history and found herself being drawn to street art during her last semester while taking Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Claire spends her free time writing with a screenwriters’ workshop she holds for her friends, reading, and trying not to lose her Massachusetts accent although it’s wicked hard.